More people died on the water in Queensland last year than in the last two decades.
Officials received reports of 332 marine incidents involving 443 vessels in 2019, with crashes between ships the most common, followed by collisions with other objects, groundings and capsizes.
As a result, 109 people were injured and 18 died.
It is the highest annual number of fatalities reported in any of the previous 20 years, an assessment of marine incidents has found.
"One particularly tragic event saw a group of five family members and friends lost at sea in the Torres Strait," Transport Minister Mark Bailey said.
"The number of reported marine incidents and hospitalisations last year was slightly down on the previous year, but sadly, there were four serious incidents that claimed multiple lives.
"Human factors were the significant contributor to most of these incidents, which frequently happened on smooth water, with good visibility in clear weather."
Just one out of 14 people who drowned or went missing was known to be wearing a life jacket at the time.
Mr Bailey has urged boat users to pay more attention to safety messages and commit to using lifejackets.
"Boat operators need to keep a proper lookout at all times and always travel at a safe speed," he added.
"Most importantly, they must have enough life jackets on board for everyone and make sure everyone knows how to use them."
Safety equipment checks on board have been ramped up, as has the monitoring of people using unlicensed boats, Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Angus Mitchell said.